Ideas to Survive an Extended Shoulder Season.

8 01 2018

Many parts of the country may never experience a shoulder season for outdoor activities.  In western Oregon the shoulder season phenomena usually occurs in spring and fall as trails get too wet to ride, snow is too shallow to ski, rocks are too wet to climb and conditions are overall more challenging to deal with.  Normally by early January we are out of the shoulder season and full swing into winter activities, but this year that’s not the case.  The snow is refusing to fall!

There is an upside to shoulder seasons as most people are driven inside by the conditions and stay home.  Finding a partner to join in your adventure may be more difficult, but if you are seeking solitude this can be a great time to find it.  Gear to stay relatively comfortable and multiple activity options to match current conditions can allow you to remain outside playing all year long.

Kayaking and canoeing is the classic in-between season activity.  Whether whitewater or flat, paddlesports require water and water is often in high supply as it falls in autumn and snow melts in the spring.  With the correct gear, kayaking can keep the active outdoors person sane during rainy shoulder seasons that make many other activities not possible.


Traveling a short distance can show a significant difference in weather.  In western Oregon a short drive to the coast may bring warmer weather and no rain.  It can also bring large storms and wind so check the weather throughout the week to see changes in the forecast.  The shoulder season is a perfect time to visit the sand dunes if you have never been there.  Unlike in summer, crowds are few and noise is minimal.  A clear evening spent on the expansive dunes is similar to clear evenings on snowy slopes and it’s way easier to cook fresh oysters over a fire.  Florence and Winchester Bay dunes both offer camping on the dunes for $10.  Make sure to research the rules and regulations before heading out. Dunes Rec Guide

sand 1

Bike touring is a great activity that can take advantage of short two day breaks in weather.  The adventure starts directly from your doorstep and in many areas, 35 miles outside of town is all that’s needed for a great destination.  Depart Saturday at noon and return Sunday at noon with plenty of opportunity for stories in between.  Beware that winter clothing and sleeping bags take up much more space in your packs than traditional summer touring gear.


If you still can’t find the motivation to get out, use the time to check over your gear and fix the needs that are neglected during the prime season.  Explore maps and plan your next adventure or watch countless online videos that might help spark your next mission idea.

However you do it, don’t let this extended shoulder season get you down.  Try new things that fit the conditions, search out new places and find yourself alone in the great outdoors.

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Who says Skating is an Urban Endeavor?

16 03 2017

NORTHBOUND | Skateboarding on Frozen Sand 4K from Turbin Film on Vimeo.

Skaters and artistic expression go together like peanut butter and jelly.  This new video from the frozen Norway coast continues to push what can be skated and how to beautifully film it.          “It’s cool to be somewhere where the eagles want to be.”

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How Small Things may help Overcome Fear

15 03 2017


Sometimes what seems a simple activity to some, can be a challenge to others.  You may know, if you put sunflower seeds in your hand and hold very, very still, the birds will come when near alpine environments.  Habituating wildlife to humans is frowned upon, but in this instance, it was a challenge for overcoming fear.

Cary is a gentleman working to overcome fear and nervous about life after spending significant time in prison.  After a conversation about overcoming fears in daily life, he decided to try having a bird land on his hand even though he was really scared to do so.

Cary succeeded in his goal and has not stopped talking about it since.  This is a simple, but good reminder how healing nature can be, especially when you transfer the learning that happens outside into your daily regime.

Sponsor Inc. Mentor program helps match community volunteers with men and women just released from prison. The role of mentors is to guide and support these individuals into a successful reentry into our community, and they only ask for about 4-6 hours of your time each month.

For More info, contact:

Jen Jackson at Sponsors 541-505-5663

For an additional article about Sponsors from Outside Magazine see:

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7 Wonders in Winter

17 01 2017

An Oregonian’s guide to the 7 Wonders during the chilly months


SMITH ROCK: Here’s a little secret about Smith Rock State Park: It’s typically warmer and drier than the rest of Central Oregon. The volcanic tuff spires of Smith Rock and their location in the high desert create a bit of a microclimate. This makes winter a perfect time to hike here. Crowds have thinned, trails are in great shape, and the rock walls absorb sun that is reflected back as heat. I like to hike up Misery Ridge and over the backside, to return around the base of the cliffs along the Crooked River. This route offers a great combination of epic views of the Cascade Range from the top and awe-inspiring views of the red-green-brown spires of Smith from the trail below. (Photo by Ben Moon)


THE WALLOWAS: To me, winter in the Wallowas is contemplative. One of the most beautiful, remote and peaceful parts of the state becomes even more so as the chill sets in and snow blankets the landscape. The Wallowas have 18 mountain peaks over 9,000 feet, and Hells Canyon is the deepest in North America. Simply put, it’s big country. The intrepid ones among us venture into the backcountry in winter; the rest of us are content to simply hunker down somewhere welcoming and cozy with friends and family, gazing at the massive, snowy beauty of those mountains. Do so from the Outlaw Restaurant in Joseph, the recently reborn Lostine Tavern, or Terminal Gravity Brewing in Enterprise, with a frosty, locally brewed IPA in front of you. (Photo by Leon Werdinger)


CRATER LAKE: Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and one of the snowiest inhabited places on the planet, with an average of 44 feet of snow annually. That means a visit to Oregon’s only national park in winter is a visit to an incredibly unique landscape in its most extreme season. I love the ranger-guided snowshoe trips offered daily on winter weekends at Rim Village. On this two-hour tour, learn about how animals, plants and people survive such harsh winters. From here, the sight of the caldera swathed in snow contrasted with the surreal blue of the lake is simply magical. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures. (Photo by Ian Shive /


THE OREGON COAST: I grew up on the Oregon Coast. And while some people shy away from visiting in winter, for me, a windy and rainy day at the beach just feels like home — and if you visit during these more meditative months, I think you’ll agree. The more rugged, rockier South Coast is my favorite winter destination, where the energy of a stormy sea meets high cliffs in crashing, splashing glory. Great vistas for winter wave watching can be found in Gold Beach, in Coos County at Shore Acres State Park and Cape Arago, and around the wee town of Yachats. But up and down the Coast, you’ll find that nothing tops the energy of the shore in winter — you’ll feel it in your bones and your soul. (Photo by Dennis Frates)


PAINTED HILLS: Confession: Some wintry nights, I dream about the pie at the Sidewalk Café and More in the town of Mitchell. There’s something particularly satisfying about finding a great little eating establishment in the middle of the high desert, and for me, Eastern Oregon is about taking in incredible outdoor vistas in between visits to authentic, down-home diners. Hike the Painted Hills on the Overlook Trail or the Carroll Rim Trail to achieve a great view of the multicolored volcanic ash of the hills while earning your pie in advance. After the exertion, enjoy a home-cooked meal at Sidewalk. Then continue east to explore more of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, or venture west into Prineville for more authentic western dining at hot spots like Barney Prine’s Steakhouse & Saloon or Club Pioneer. (Photo by Tyler Roemer)


THE COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE: In winter the Gorge calls for a road trip. I like to pack some provisions and warm, comfortable clothes and head east from Greater Portland on the Historic Columbia River Highway. Visit Crown Point Vista House for 30-mile views of the Columbia from 700 feet above. If you’re lucky, it’ll be my favorite kind of Oregon winter day, with skies clear, wind whipping and clouds tearing by overhead. You’ll get back in your car feeling totally invigorated. Head on down the highway for short hikes without crowds at Latourell, Bridal Veil, Multnomah and Horsetail falls. End in Hood River for a late lunch at Full Sail Brewing Co. or Celilo Restaurant and Bar, followed by a little small-town boutique shopping before the journey back to Portland. Perfect day trip! (Photo by Alamy Stock)


MT. HOOD: A few years ago, I spent a winter weekend at Timberline Lodge. Not being an alpine skier, I wondered what I’d do with my time. The answer was: Explore the iconic, historic lodge, from the hand-carved newel posts in animal motifs to the exhibit about The Shining in the lobby. Snowshoe up the flanks of the magnificent mountain under a shining winter sun. Sip hot drinks in the cozy Ram’s Head Bar with a breathtaking view of snowy Mt. Hood through the expansive windows. Soak in the hot tub with the smell of subalpine fir and snow on the breeze. Sleep peacefully under a warm, wool Pendleton blanket in a room built from great Oregon conifer trees. Finally, leave rested, happy and with a fresh vision of the beauty and wonder of my home state. (Photo by Timberline Lodge)

For more fun Oregon outings check out Travel Oregon!

Author: Kim Cooper Findling


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How to Not Drive Like an Idiot This Winter

6 01 2017


By: Wes Siler- Jan 5, 2017

Re-posted from  Outside Magazine

Snow, ice, and slush—oh my! Presenting five basic tips on how to navigate inclement weather this season.

The single most important important thing you can do to drive safely in snow, ice, and cold temperatures is to fit a set of studless winter tires to your car or truck. But even after you’ve done that, the season’s inclement weather still calls for a little knowledge, smart decision making, and common sense. I’ve driven the frozen Baltic Sea, the icy Siberian tundra, off-road in deep snow through Iceland’s mountains, and the snow-covered streets of Manhattan. Let’s make you a better winter driver.

Know When to Stay Off the Roads

After winter tires, the best advice I can give you is simply to stay home and avoid driving in serious weather. If it’s bad enough that driving is dangerous, then it’s probably not worth getting on the road.

How many drivers in Portland, Oregon, wish they’d heeded this advice last month? That city received just two inches of snow, yet its drivers had hundreds of crashes, were stuck in their cars for hours, and some of the worst pile ups took days to be cleared. I bet most of those who are dealing with insurance companies and impound lots right now wish they’d left their cars at home that morning, taken an alternate method of transport home that night, or just sucked it up and gotten a hotel room. Your $500 insurance deductible is about five times the price of a decent hotel room in the city.

Slow Down

Snow, ice, slush, rain, and even cold temperatures all conspire to reduce the friction between your tires and the roadway. You need that friction to go, stop, and turn. Lower speeds require less of that limited friction to stop and corner and will also allow you more time to make potentially life-saving decisions.

While you’re at it, increase the space between you and other vehicles as well. Instead of the usual two- to four-second following interval you use in good weather, increase that to eight to ten seconds. Again, that compensates for your car’s reduced braking ability, while increasing the time you have to react.


No matter how long you’ve had your license, you’ll benefit from practicing your winter-weather driving skills. Finding a safe place to do so is key. It will allow you to make mistakes that won’t damage your vehicle, your health, or someone else’s property. A big empty parking lot works, as does a quiet cul-de-sac or an empty field (just beware of under-snow obstacles when you’re off road). Once you’re ready, see what it feels like to accelerate, apply your brakes, and corner.

Because you’re working with reduced friction, winter weather reduces the speed with which you can accelerate and brake. Just pumping the pedals with the usual force may overwhelm the tires’ available grip, causing your wheels to starting spinning while accelerating or lock up while braking. Either scenario reduces your ability to control your vehicle. So practice gingerly applying the throttle from a dead stop, and gaining momentum without inducing wheel spin. Once you have a feel for that, practice it on an incline, which can be even harder. It’s also vital to get an idea of what it feels like to brake in slippery conditions. Practice coming to a controlled stop in as short a distance as possible.

You should also learn how to correct slides, which you can encounter going around a corner. Switch off your Traction Control and Stability Control (more on that shortly), drive in a circle of a set size at a speed below where you start sliding in a big, open area. When you’re ready, stab the gas pedal to initiate a slide. By simply looking where you want to go, you’ll naturally steer in a way that should achieve some measure of slide control. After a few fun spins, try consciously steering toward where you’re looking. The last piece in the puzzle is keeping the car balanced by holding even pressure on the gas pedal.

What you’re trying to do is help the tires regain traction, while steering the car away from obstacles and keeping it on the road. Even while your car is in a slide, the spinning tires have some effect on the car’s direction of travel. The idea is to maintain that, while allowing them to clear the slippery portion of the road, and regain traction on their own. Rapidly letting off the throttle, or applying the brakes will actually exacerbate the slide by altering the car’s weight balance, or locking the wheels.

All cars slide a little differently. Front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive cars tend to understeer (boring, easy to control). Rear-wheel-drive cars tend to oversteer (exciting, difficult to master). (Here’s a great explanation of how understeer and oversteer differ.) The weight distribution, tires, differentials, and electronic driver aids are other factors. It’s vital to practice slides in any car you’ll be driving regularly through winter weather, so you know what to expect, in what conditions, and how to control it.

Throughout all of this, it’s vital to also understand that winter weather conditions vary greatly. There’s different kinds of snow, different kinds of ice, and all sorts of mixes of the two, along with other factors that will change how your car behaves.

Car Technology: How It Works and How It Can Help You

All-Wheel Drive

All-wheel drive differs from four-wheel drive in that it can instantaneously redirect power to any or all of your wheels in slippery conditions. But unlike a 4WD, an AWD vehicle cannot lock the speeds of the front and rear axles together.

If your car has all-wheel drive, you’ll have an easier time accelerating in slippery conditions. But AWD does not improve your car’s ability to brake or turn. And be warned: because braking and turning are more important for safety than accelerating, your ease of acceleration can lead to exaggerated confidence. It doesn’t matter how many wheels on your car are allegedly driven (when things get slippery, it’s actually just one), we all rely on the same four contact patches to slow or turn. My advice: don’t rely on the car, rely on winter tires.

The way AWD and 4WD function, and the ways in which they differ are complicated. I think we’ve done a pretty good job explaining that in detail here.

Anti-Lock Brakes

ABS keeps your wheels from locking when you slam on the brakes. This is important because, in winter weather, there’s less friction between your tires and the surface you’re driving on—and locked wheels eliminate your ability to steer. This feature does not help you stop in shorter distances. One of the most important skills you can practice in a vehicle is threshold braking, where you hold the brakes just on the edge of locking up, in order to achieve maximum stopping power. This is an advanced skill; one you should likely learn in a high performance driving school such as Skip Barber. If you don’t have the time for advanced driver training, then you’ll simply need to rely on ABS to make up for your lack of ability. You’ll feel the brake pedal pulse when they’re doing their job: this is just how ABS works.

Four-Wheel Drive

Unlike AWD, 4WD locks the speed of the front and rear axles together, which means torque has to overcome the grip available to both axles before it can induce wheel spin. If you are driving on a consistently slippery surface (deep snow, a frozen lake, etc), then you’ll benefit from employing 4WD if your vehicle is so-equipped. But be warned: Because the front and rear axles need to spin at different speeds in corners, engaging 4WD while going fast on pavement is a bad idea and can damage your vehicle or cause you to lose control. If you are driving on a mixed surface, with patches of pavement and snow, then you should probably stick with two-wheel drive, only employing 4WD if you are stuck, or risk becoming so. Every 4WD vehicle engages its front axle differently; consult your owner’s manual and learn how your car works. Again, consult our explanation of how 4WD and AWD work if you want to learn more.

Traction Control

Traction control monitors wheel speeds, killing power when the driven wheels begin to spin up. This can take some of the guesswork out of winter driving; you don’t have to think so much about how much throttle to apply. If your car is less than 20 years old, it probably has TC. Leave it switched on for most winter driving, but if you get stuck and feel you may benefit from some wheel spin to get out, know how to turn it off. Here’s more on how traction control works.

Stability Control

You’ll find a variety of acronyms and propriety names for this technology, but it always works the same way. By using the ABS to monitor and individually adjust wheel speeds, a computer is able to help prevent the car from spinning, or otherwise going out of control. This is the most effective safety technology since the seatbelt; it delivers the non-crashiness in bad weather, or through ham-fisted driving that most people unknowingly attribute to AWD. Leave it on at all times, unless you’re practicing in safe, controlled conditions. Here’s more on how stability control works.

That Snowflake Button Next to Your Gear Selector

On most modern automatic cars, you’ll often find a button with a snowflake on it, located somewhere in the vicinity of your gear selector. It tells the transmission to pull away in second gear, rather than first. Manual drivers, you can probably learn something from this. Gears multiply an engine’s torque. In slippery conditions, first gear may apply too much torque for given traction. Each gear multiplies torque less as you shift up, so second gear may allow you to pull away, where you were just spinning your wheels in first.

Locking Differentials

If you drive a 4WD truck, you may have the ability to lock one or both differentials. Where 4WD locks the speed of the front and rear axles together, locking diffs make the speed of the wheels on the axle even. This maximizes available traction, but again, you should only use these while driving on slippery surfaces and only at low speeds. Locking your diff(s) might help you get unstuck, but don’t use them to drive around once you’re unstuck. Again, consult your owner’s manual for which button, knob, dial, or lever does what. If you’re confused about what differentials do, watch this video.

Stuff You Should Have With You

Warm Blanket

Trapped in your car for hours because drivers in Portland can’t handle two inches of snow? You might need to switch your engine off in order to conserve gas. In which case, your heat won’t work. I carry a Rumpl Down Puffy Blanket for just that purpose, but anything works.


Should your vehicle get stuck, you’ll need to excavate its driven wheels (the back wheels for a rear-wheel drive, etc.), and put something that will provide traction underneath them. Whether that’s kitty litter, your floor mats, or some rocks, you’ll need a shovel to dig your tires out first.  I find a rectangular garden spade works best in snow and ice. The larger the shovel you carry, the easier it’ll be to use.

Good Boots

Driving to work in a pair of expensive loafers? Man, it’d be difficult to walk a mile for help if you get stuck. An old pair of serviceable, waterproof boots belongs in your trunk at all times.

At Least Half a Tank of Gas

There’s no need for jerry cans, just don’t let your tank get below half-full if inclement weather is expected. That way, you can avoid long lines at gas stations and wait out the dreaded traffic jams.

A Phone Charger

Carry a battery charger or one that plugs into your cigarette lighter. You wouldn’t want to get stuck in a traffic jam without the ability to complain about it on Facebook.

One Of Those Ice Scraper/Brush Things

It’s vital to clean all accumulated snow and ice off your car before driving. It’s obvious why you need to dig out your lights and windows, but leaving snow on the roof or hood could also lead to loss of vision while driving, as it shifts due to braking, acceleration, and wind.

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The Edge of Impossible

1 12 2016

First Quadriplegic To Ever Heliski – The Edge of Impossible from HighFivesFoundation on Vimeo.

In the spring of 2014, the High Fives Foundation gave a Winter Empowerment grant to provide the team with the tools and travel necessary for Tony Schmiesing to accomplish “The Edge of Impossible” trip to Points North Heli-Adventures in Cordova, Alaska!

This uplifting and truly inspirational video was produced to showcase the human spirit and allow Tony to accomplish the life-long goal of experiencing the weightlessness of pure Alaskan powder skiing.

Get ready for your own winter skiing adventures and pray for snow.  In the words of Tony,”If you don’t try it, you’ll never know if you can can do it or not.”

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Central Oregon Avalanches Happen

4 02 2016


From the Central Oregon Avalanche Association:

Avalanches DO happen in Central Oregon.  Skiers and snowboarders are at risk whenever they enter the backcountry, and with more and more people in the BC, the risks are not just limited to just you and your group.  We suppose it wasn’t long before something like the following incident would occur, and we are bringing it to our community’s attention because we believe that there are important lessons to be learned and talked about.
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